Live: Patch and the Giant – Basement, York

Patch and the Giant are: Luke Owen, Angie Rance, Gabriel Merryfield, Nick Edward Harris and Derek Yau

For fans of: Mumford and Sons, The Decembrists

Now if anybody asked me if I like folk music, the answer would probably be no. If anybody asked do I enjoy violin, or accordion or harmonica, they’d get a similar response. So really the fact I’m writing about a folk band who play all of those instruments and more is a little bit out there – but if somebody asked do I like Patch and the Giant, the response would be a resounding yes.

Just last week the band released their debut album All That We Had, We Stole following their 2013 debut EP. It has received great acclaim from folk writers across the country so it’s about time an indie writer took a crack at it. It’d be naive of me in my first folk review to go – ah it sounds like Mumford, but this band really do remind me of them both lyrically and musically although after a good listen to the record, much more complex in a number of ways.

Beggars Song opens it up – a strong, raw opener that maximises both Luke’s vocals and the violin. The contrast of smooth strings and gruff vocals are a keg feature of the record and Patch and the Giant have nailed the balance in the first track. Moving into another upbeat track A Local Man they showcase their ability to blend numerous sounds and styles and although a much cleaner track than most on the album – it sends you away to southern American and a Nashville barn dance.

As the album progresses slower tracks creep in to balance the record. Flowers and Love and War are effortlessly beautiful folk songs that tell their own wonderful stories through music. For a band that includes accordion, harmonica, bass, double bass, violin and banjo to name just a few instruments, the harmony and synergy is quite exceptional.

Another Day and The River to me set them aside from other bands in this genre that I’ve come across. Patch and the Giant are so musically talented their progression in songs is that of an indie classic whilst using only folk music. The way in which they are producing very non mainstream music but fit for mainstream ears is an incredible feature of this album and will be what gets them that radio air time and rockets them to the top of folk music.

The album highlight for me is probably a surprise – Where my Body Lies sounds the most assured, the most perfected and the way the track starts and finishes in completely different places is a genuine pleasure to listen to. From the vocals to the guitar to the incredible feeling you as a listener has inside as you forget all your problems – this track is the album highlight and a track I could listen to on repeat for hours and find new intricacies that amaze me.

I am genuinely struggling to find fault with this debut. Yes for sure there are areas for improvement, perhaps the track ordering or the mastering on some of the songs but if that’s the only complaint for a debut, it suggests it’s one hell of a good effort and I can’t wait to see how it is received across the nation in 2017.

Live at The Basement 15/2/2017

So naturally following my love of the new record I was very excited to see the band in action for the first time. The venue itself is a lovely, compact room which means you almost feel part of the band you’re that close. Rooms like that work perfectly for music like this as it doesn’t need to be overly turned up on the speakers so you get the natural sound of the music.

Kicking off with The River the band were in full flow right from the off with beautiful violin and vocals. The acoustic was on point and the harmonies were stunning and the perfect set starter. Slowing down into The Day You Went to Sea the harmonica was a great addition and the harmonies continued with great effect.

The set was a stunning mix of these more upbeat tracks and more mellow tracks and the flow of the whole set was superb. With tracks like Beggars Song showing off the full bands capabilities along with one of the set highlights A Local Man, the band started with four of the brilliant tracks from the new record.

Love and War was a sincere, beautiful performance, with genuinely haunting vocals which was followed by The Sleeping Boat which vocalist Luke said was a folk band staple, a song about a ‘bedboat’. It is important when a debut album comes out that previous releases don’t get forgotten and the bands rendition of Yourself Unto the Sea was nothing short of exceptional and a great reminder that the band are not just about the new record.

The highlight of the set for me was Another Day  which was only marred by a broken D string. The trumpet was exceptional and the crowd involvement in the ‘heys’ was great to see from what was a largely uninvolved set for the audience.

The set continued down to a close with Flowers, a great Bob Dylan cover and finishing with Daniel from the first EP. The band were then roared back out for one more song House of the Rising Sun which I have to say left me wanting Patch and the Giant to make more music like that. The closest they have is Flowers but when Luke does go up into the next register and really let’s go, that’s when this band are at their very best.

If I have one complaint from the night it’s that I’d love to see them relax a bit more. These guys have so much talent and are such fantastic musicians, they just need to believe it and really settle down and enjoy playing live. I won’t even say they have potential because they already have it, just a bit more confidence and they could be the best band like this on the circuit. A great show considering they played some very D string dependent tracks without one!

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